Govind D. Belgaumkar
Elected representatives accused of not taking up the issue seriously
Mangalore and Kankanadi stations are with the Palghat division of Southern Railway People of the State have been demanding creation of Mangalore and Gulbarga divisions Gulbarga, Shahabad and Wadi stations contribute Rs. 70 crores to Sholapur Divison of Central Railway
BANGALORE: The recent statement of Minister of State for Railways R. Velu that there is no proposal to create a separate division in Mangalore has disappointed the people of Karnataka, who have been demanding it for long.
The fact that a separate division is being formed with Salem as its headquarters under Southern Railway in Tamil Nadu has left Kannadigas wondering whether their dream would ever be fulfilled. People are surprised that the elected representatives, MPs in particular, have not commented on this.
Mangalore and the nearby Kankanadi stations are with the Palghat division of Southern Railway. As Palghat is several hundred kilometres away from Mangalore, the people of coastal Karnataka have been alleging that their railway needs are not receiving proper attention. Hence they are demanding that the two stations be brought under South Western Railway (SWR) and the regions surrounding Mangalore be brought under one division with Mangalore as its headquarters.
With the Hassan-Mangalore section of SWR on the verge of being commissioned, it is felt that creation of this division will go a long way in strengthening the railway network of Karnataka and provide better facilities for the region. When the proposed Hubli-Ankola line gets ready, railway network of the State would get a further boost and propel greater economic activity. This line will also provide connectivity to the Konkan Railway section between Mangalore and Roha at three points - Mangalore, Ankola and Madagaon.
The chambers of commerce in the State have also been pointing out that the completion of the proposed Hubli-Ankola line would make transport of manganese and iron ore from Bellary to coastal region for further movement in ships easy. Mangalore is the second biggest city of Karnataka and a commercial and industrial centre. It is also an important tourist place and attracts pilgrims.
Since creation of Salem division will leave the Palghat division with little rail network, getting Mangalore and Kankanadi from it would be difficult in future, it is feared.
In fact, people of the State have been demanding creation of two divisions under SWR -- Mangalore and Gulbarga.
The Sareen Committee recommended in 1994 the constitution of Gulbarga division covering 276-km Hotgi-Gulbarga-Wadi-Raichur-Mantralayam Road section and 383-km Wadi-Vikarabad-Parli-Vaijanth Section.
New rail line proposed
The committee had also proposed new railway line from Gulbarga to Bidar under this division. But this demand too has not received encouraging response from the Centre over the years.
When seven new railway zones and eight new divisions were created across the country, Kannadigas had hoped that their demand for creation divisions at Gulbarga and Mangalore would receive positive response. But this has not happened.
A close observer of the developments relating railways in Karnataka and retired Government servant, K. Prahlad Rao, points out that elected representatives in the State have not been taking up these issues with the required seriousness. He says that people of the State were given to understand that Mangalore division would be created and that Konkan Railway would be brought under its jurisdiction. But now there is no talk about it.
President of the Rajasthan Samaj Railway Sangarsha Samithi Prakash Mandoth has written a letter to Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, urging him to concede the demand to set up the two divisions.
He pointed out that Gulbarga, Shahabad and Wadi stations contributed a revenue of Rs. 70 crores to Sholapur divison of Central Railway.